God has given us prayer, a vehicle to call upon Him, because He knows that we will always have needs. We have little needs, average size needs, and sometimes huge needs. Sometimes our needs can wait, but sometimes our needs are urgent. Whatever size the need is, and however urgent the need is, God will give us just the right kind of prayer with the right amount of earnestness that is necessary to bring help to each need.
Step 1. Earnest prayer begins with God giving us a burden and a desire for something—to possess something, to bring something about, or to change something. Along with that desire, He also causes us to seek Him and to seek His will concerning the thing we desire.
Sometimes He puts us in the middle of a difficult situation so that we are familiar with the burden that He gives us and so that we feel the burden as He does. But sometimes the burden seems strange to us, because we are not so involved with it, and so we have to pray through it and grab on to it so as to make it our own. In this case, I would say that we should be constantly asking Him how to pray and how to understand the burden He is giving us.
Step 2. After God gives us a desire and a burden to pray for something, the second thing He does is He puts in us the urge and the energy to pray. And when we obediently follow the urge of His Spirit and pray with the energy of His Spirit, this is how we begin to pray with earnestness.
Step 3. But earnest prayer is not easy. It’s really a lot of work. Earnest prayer is prayer that is worked at constantly; it is a continual determined effort (in the Spirit) to bring an answer. Sometimes God requires our earnestness in prayer to be so intense that it is agonizing, as one whose muscles are sore and as one who is extremely tired—as a runner who has run his hardest and his body is in agony as he strives for the finish line.
From the Greek word agonizomai we get the word agony. This word is used of how Epaphras, one of Paul’s co-workers prayed and how he himself prayed for the church (with agonizing earnest prayer, Col. 1:2-29; 4:12). This kind of earnestness is how we should pray for ourselves in our struggle against the devil and against our flesh. Thus our prayer against the enemy must be continual and unrelenting; and at times it will be agonizing work. But if we keep at it, if we keep trusting God and asking Him to help us in our prayers, He will bring us the answers that we desire and that He desires for us.